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Talking Points: Hansen's comments both hypocritical and idealistic

By The Citizen  |  Posted: April 25, 2014

Joe Rokocoko was born in Fiji but won 68 caps for New Zealand

NEW Zealand head coach Steve Hansen sparked widespread debate when he expressed his frustration at Kiwi qualified players pursuing international honours elsewhere.

His comments came in the wake of Cheifs centre Bundee Aki committing his future to Connacht with the hope of qualifying for Ireland on residency grounds.

Aki saw his route to the Silver Fern blocked by the likes of Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Francis Saili and Ryan Crotty and understandably sees a brighter future in Ireland.

Chiefs fly-half Gareth Anscombe, who qualifies for Wales due to his Cardiff-born mother, is also reportedly attracting interest from Cardiff Blues, with Warren Gatland viewing the 22-year-old as the perfect candidate to guide his World Cup challenge.

Hansen claimed players should fight harder to fulfil their dream of playing for the All Blacks but as Gloucester chairman Ryan Walkinshaw and former Kingsholm favourite Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu pointed out on Twitter, the comments smacked of hypocracy.

For generations New Zealand have plundered the South Sea Islands for their finest talents, some of the All Blacks’ modern greats – Frank Bunce, Jonah Lomu, Tana Umanga and Rokocoko- are of Polynesian descent.

But not only are the comments hypocritical but they are totally idealistic, with Hansen continually referring to ‘the dream’.

Hansen will know, dreams rarely come to fruition. Children growing up in Samoa do not grow up dreaming of wearing the Silver Fern but the Southern Cross.

The reality however, is that pursuing greater educational, financial and commercial rewards with scholarships or contracts on The land of the Long White Cloud is far more appealing.

Players, like anyone, in any industry, have bills to pay and families to provide for, and the opportunity to play a higher level rugby, whether club or international, undeniably brings greater rewards.

As long as the IRB maintain their three-year residency rule, players will continue to swap their international allegiances - this after all is a professional business.

Hansen should know better and would be better served keeping quiet given New Zealand’s history within the sport.

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